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Two thirds of young children in Thailand deprived of play and early learning activities with their fathers – UNICEF

Golf and Chujai
Singer Golf Fuckling Hero and his daughter

Globally, more than half of all children deprived of sufficient activities with their fathers

Bangkok, 16 June 2017 – More than half – or 55 per cent - of children aged between 3 and 4 years-old in 74 countries – approximately 40 million – have fathers who do not play or engage in early learning activities with them, according to a new UNICEF analysis.

In Thailand, 66 per cent of fathers do not sufficiently engage with their children in activities that promote learning and school readiness. The rate is even higher among fathers from poorest household (75 per cent) compared with the richest households (48 per cent), according to a survey on the situation of children and women in Thailand conducted by the National Statistical Office with support from UNICEF which collected data from over 28,000 households across the country in 2016.

“The first few years of life provide a critical, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape children’s brain development – and their parents are the most important people in this process,” said Thomas Davin, UNICEF Representative for Thailand.  “The more fathers, mothers and family members play with them, provide them with good nutrition and show them love and care, the better the chances are that these children will reach their optimal health, happiness and learning ability, even in difficult conditions such as conflict or extreme poverty. This cannot be left only to the mothers. Fathers have a critical role to play.”

The UNICEF analysis, which uses Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) data on parenting behaviours, looked at whether children aged 3 and 4 engaged in any play and early learning activities with their fathers. The activities include having their father read to the children, tell them stories or sing with them; taking them outside, playing with them; and naming, counting or drawing with them. The MICS is the largest collection of comparable data on parental behaviours in the world.

To encourage more fathers to play an active role in their young children’s development and highlight the importance of love, play, protection and good nutrition for the healthy development of young children’s brains, UNICEF is inviting families to post photos and videos of what it takes to be ‘super dads,’ using the hashtag #EarlyMomentsMatter #SuperDads and #ยอดคุณพ่อ on their Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Famous Thai fathers including Zico Kiatisuk Senamuang, Friend of UNICEF, Golf Fuckling Hero, Bie Thassapak and Tuck Boriboon Chanruang joined the “Super Dads” campaign to highlight the importance of love, play, protection and good nutrition for the healthy development of young children’s brains. They urged all fathers in Thailand to spend more time with their children.

“A father is hero to his children,” Kiatisuk said. “You don’t need to have any special powers to become a hero to your children. You just need to play with your children, read to them, tell them stories, or sing with them. These activities help build the foundations that help your children to advance in life.”

Across the world, stars from the world of entertainment and sport such as Mahershala Ali, David Beckham, the All Blacks, Daniel Cormier, Novak Djokovic, Lewis Hamilton, Hugh Jackman, also joined the Super Dads campaign to celebrate fatherhood.

Across the world, UNICEF is urging governments and the private sector to increase spending and influence polices to support early childhood development programmes that focus on providing parents with the resources and information they need to provide nurturing care to their children.  Advances in neuroscience have proven that when children spend their earliest years in a nurturing, stimulating environment, new neural connections can form at a once-in-a-lifetime speed of 1,000 per second. These connections help determine their health, ability to learn and deal with stress, and even influence their earning capacity as adults.

Research also suggests that exposure to violence and a lack of stimulation and care can prevent neural connections from occurring; and when children positively interact with their fathers, they have better psychological health, self-esteem and life-satisfaction in the long-term.

All photo and video submissions to the Super Dads initiative will feature on the #EarlyMomentsMatter gallery.

Watch video: Golf Fuckling Hero:
Watch video Bie Thassapak

For more information, please contact:
Alistair Gretarsson, UNICEF Thailand, 092 256 2418 or
Nattha Keenapan, UNICEF Thailand, 086 616 7555 or



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